(Choose one Topic): Children’s Literature
(1) Analyze a children’s novel from the period between the Golden Age and the Silver Age — roughly 1920 to 1950, when books such as Winnie-the-Pooh, Mary Poppins, Little House on the Prairie, and The Hobbit made their appearance. This was a time when the primarily educational, even adult-oriented books of the Golden Age were giving way to the more child-friendly works of the latter period. You might consider this question of intended audience and purpose, or take on any issue in the book that has critical support. Examples of past papers: “Wilder’s Little House: Traditional vs. Modern Roles for Women”; “The Hobbit as Mythic Coming-of-Age.”
(2) Consider a children’s author from a specific standpoint of theme, subject matter, or reception; this can be an author we are reading, as long as you don’t simply echo what we discuss in class. Examples: “Lewis’s Christian Writings and Narnia,” “The Uses and Misuses of Power in Harry Potter’s World.”
(3) Select a children’s novel from the Silver Age (1950-1970) and argue a specific thesis about it. Make certain you are dealing with a children’s book (for readers no older than 12); Catcher in the Rye and Lord of the Flies, for instance, are definitely adolescent novels and thus outside this course. If you are not sure, ask. Examples: “Harriet the Spy, Proto-Feminist”; “Rationalizing Fantasy in The Rats of NIMH.”
Each paper must be 1500 words long (roughly five pages double-spaced in 12-point font) and make use of outside resources for purposes of quotation, evidence, and authoritative support. In most cases, that means a bibliography or “Works Cited” list of four to six sources, mostly critical works. You will find advice on how and where to seek acceptable sources at “Starting Points for Research” (below). Take advantage of it.
STARTING POINTS FOR RESEARCH
Do not use too much Google. Better to use library resources.
1.Make sure you have a firm grip on your thesis or overall purpose.
2.Your organization must be orderly and coherent. In your conclusion do not merely summarize your entire paper but provide additional insight and closure.
3.When discussing literary plots, always use the present tense. Use the past tense, however, with historical or biographical facts.
4.Quotations must be properly tied in to your text. Don’t leave them standing alone.
5.As demonstrated immediately above, citations can be placed parenthetically in the text after the quotation, followed by a period. You need only the page number if you have already mentioned the author; otherwise, use the form (Milne 9), without commas.
6.American usage dictates that commas and periods go inside quotation marks, semi-colons outside, and single quotation marks inside double marks “when you have a ‘word or more’ quoted inside a quotation.”
7.Avoid using “it,” “this,” “these,” “there is,” when nothing specific is being referred to.
8.Phrases to avoid: “I think,” “I feel,” “I believe,” “In my opinion.”
9. For a succinct reference on other fine points of English/American usage, consult a standard writer’s reference like Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style or The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. MLA formatting is preferred in literature papers. Fortunately, these resources are available online.
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